In a rematch of one of last year’s NFC divisional playoff games, the (4-2-1) Minnesota Vikings host the (5-1) New Orleans Saints under the lights of primetime today (8:20 PM ET Sunday).
While this is one of the most highly anticipated matchups on the 2018 NFL schedule due to the nature of the rematch, this is also one that could be a precursor for what we might expect in a few months when the playoffs pick up again. Although, the Los Angeles Rams are undefeated and should likely cruise to the NFC Championship game, another divisional head-to-head for the Vikings and Saints could very well be in order.
A Stone Cold Stunner
When the dust settled at the end of their postseason game, the Saints organization and their fans must have been in brutal, utter shock. That’s because with just 25 seconds left, New Orleans took the lead on a 43-yard field goal. It was an emotional point of the game because it marked the first time the Saints took the lead since coming back from a 17-point deficit which lasted into the third quarter. Minnesota wasn’t supposed to win the game at that point. New Orleans had completed the comeback and this was supposed to be their story.
The Vikings had no time outs left and took over the ball deep in their own territory. All Minnesota needed was a field goal and they tried to get chunk yardage by the sidelines to get there. With just 10 seconds left and a field goal out of range, Case Keenum threw up a prayer that was answered by Stefon Diggs, who somehow managed to stay in bounds and evade his defender, getting into the endzone as the clock expired.
That is one of those games you would like to forget and for the Saints, fortunately it’s not one they’ve seemed to dwell on either. New Orleans has been the second best team in the NFC this season record-wise and is once again among the top-six offenses in the entire league. The Saints rank sixth in yards per game and passing yards per game and are second in points per game, averaging 34. Only the Kansas City Chiefs are a higher scoring team but they are in the AFC.
The loss to the Vikings was a tough way for New Orleans to end their season and they didn’t open the next season on a great note either, losing a shootout to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. From there, the Saints have been perfect, winning both blowout and close games as they have surged to the top of the division in the NFC South. Right now they look unbeatable.
Minnesota doesn’t look too bad itself however, especially recently. The Vikings opened their season with a win against the San Francisco 49ers before going on to tie or lose each of their next three, including a loss to one of the NFL’s worst teams, the Buffalo Bills. This led the Vikings into an NFC Championship rematch against the Philadelphia Eagles, another team that had been struggling. The Vikings won that game with Kurt Cousins continuing to boast a stellar record when playing his former divisional rival. The team has been undefeated since, picking up wins against the Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets to move into first place in their division, the NFC North, as well.
So basically what we have in this rematch are two teams that are streaking hot right now and two that have recent history. That adds up to what should be a pretty stellar rematch of the two NFC powerhouses led by top-level passers.
QB Drew Brees, who passed Peyton Manning earlier this season for most yards thrown in a career, is having an MVP caliber start to his season. The longtime vet has thrown 13 touchdowns, zero interceptions and boasts a 121.6 QB rating. He is going to be airing out the ball early and often and the Vikings will look to match that with Cousins. While not at Brees’ level, Cousins was Minnesota’s big win in the free agency/trade market this offseason as the team inked him to a lucrative deal to be their franchise guy. So far this season, Cousins has thrown 14 touchdowns to just three interceptions and it’s worth noting that last year against the Saints, he threw for over 200 yards with three touchdowns. It’s also worth noting that Cousins’ receiver Adam Thielen is the first person in NFL history to open the season with seven straight 100+ yard receiving games.
Our Preview’s New Orleans Saints vs Minnesota Vikings Picks & Predictions Verdict
With the Vikings and Saints seemingly on a level-playing field heading into this week eight matchup, one thing to look for is where the game is being played. That would be U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis and as far as home field advantage goes, it has been a pretty big one.
In its last 41 games at home, the Vikings have gone 29-11-1 ATS with a similar record of success straight up. While the home field advantage itself carries weight, another factor to consider is just how poorly the Saints have played recently when in Minnesota. A decent road team historically, the Saints are just 1-7 SU in their last eight road games in Minnesota. Two of these losses, including the playoff clash, occurred last season.
- Despite being at home, the Vikings are actually listed as dogs for this one, with a one to two point spread at most American books favoring the Saints. Whether the Vikings win or lose, look for a close one between the two teams, much like their playoff meeting in 2018. The first of our Saints vs Vikings predictions is to bet on Minnesota +2pts @ -105 with Bookmaker.
- This game will go a long way to showing us where these two teams stack up as Super Bowl contenders so they should showcase their strongest weapons, those of the passing game. Because both offenses are led by absolute gunslingers, for the total points we are looking at the over. Bet over 54pts @ best odds of -105, again with Bookmaker. Saints games this season have had an averaged combined score over 61. New Orleans’ offense is adept at scoring and their defense is really inept at preventing opponents from doing the same.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.